A Shot In the Foot…

We all know someone who fits the description, “He can’t get out of his own way.”  Maybe the person is an artist who is so self-critical that his work is never finished or displayed; maybe the person is an engineer who is so absorbed by career goals and getting credit for his contributions that no one will work with him; maybe the person is so risk-averse that he ignores great opportunities in his life.  The person who can’t get out of his own way comes in many forms and in many fields.

The NCAA is an organization that seems not be able to get out of its own way these days.  The NCAA is under pressure to pay its athletes in the revenue sports; it faces health and safety issues; it has coaches and assistant coaches who run programs that abuse athletes to the point where the athletes suffer sexual assault and/or death; it faces the critical reality that its recruiting rules invite abuse by the “member institutions” and that the NCAA is feckless in its ability to enforce its own rules.  And in that quagmire, the NCAA was presented with a golden opportunity to do good and do well at the same time – – and it blew the opportunity.

Hurricane Florence did a lot of damage in the Carolinas last month; people suffered catastrophic losses; all the “rescue work” is over but the reconstruction of homes, facilities and lives has only begun.  The basketball coaches at UNC and South Carolina came up with the idea of playing a pre-season basketball game between the schools where all the proceeds would go to Hurricane Florence recovery activities.  The teams were going to pay their own way; there would be no facilities costs; it was a way to funnel money to the recovery.  These teams used to be rivals in the same conference but have not played one another for years now; the game would have drawn a good crowd.  Kudos to Roy Williams and Frank Martin for the idea.

That game will not happen – – thanks to the NCAA and its amazing ability not to be able to get out of its own way.

You see; the NCAA has a rule about college basketball exhibition games …  Once I tell you that, you can easily see how the NCAA can manage to tie its shoelaces together to immobilize itself.  Here is “the problem”:

  • The rule says that schools may play no more than 2 exhibition games and/or joint practices/scrimmages prior to its regular season.
  • Both UNC and South Carolina have contractually committed to two such “events” prior to the birth of Florence let alone its devastation.  Ergo, the schools need a waiver from the NCAA to raise money for Hurricane Florence relief in this way.
  • The NCAA said, “No!”.


The Tampa Bay Bucs fired defensive coordinator, Mike Smith, earlier this week.  The Bucs’ defense was bad last year, and it has not been any the better this year.  That is a recipe for firing a defensive coordinator if ever there was one.  However, I think there is something else bubbling below the surface here.  Head coach, Dirk Koetter is an “offensive guy”.  Supposedly, he got the job when as the Bucs’ offensive coordinator, he made Jameis Winston look like a future star QB in Winston’s first season and was high on everyone’s list to become a head coach somewhere else.  The Bucs fired head coach, Lovie Smith, and elevated Koetter to the position.

The Bucs improved to 9-7 in Koetter’s first season at the helm; then, things went south in season two; the Bucs struggled home with a 5-11 record last year.  In 2017, the Bucs’ defense ranked dead last in the NFL in yards per game allowed (378.1) and in yards allowed per play (6.0).  Mike Smith’s defense certainly did not distinguish itself there.

This year, the Bucs record is 2-3 and the defense has been statistically worse.  In 5 games this season, the Bucs have yielded 439.8 yards per game and 6.9 yards per play.  If the defense hit rock bottom last year, they seem to have continued to dig this year.  And so, Mike Smith is gone, and linebackers’ coach Mark Duffner takes over the defensive coordinator job.

The Bucs have 11 games left in the 2018 season and the defensive coordinator has already been jettisoned.  Jameis Winston continues to show physical skills on the field that are enticing but his mental errors and his off-field behaviors could give one pause about his future status as a franchise QB.  If the Bucs do not rebound and play competitively, the Bucs owner – Malcom Glazer – may just feel the need to make major changes and “major change” would not stop merely at changing the team’s coordinators.  With the move to fire Mike Smith, I think Dirk Koetter is coaching for his job now.

Oh, by the way, the Bucs GM is in the final year – a team option year – of his contract too.  If the Bucs stumble home in 2018, the front office and the coaching staff may be looking for work in 2019…

At the other end of the NFL coaching spectrum from Dirk Koetter this morning, we find Sean McVay doing something else innovative besides his offense and his play calling.  McVay has hired an assistant to be on the sidelines with him during games whose job it is to advise McVay on clock management.  Jedd Fisch had been the offensive coordinator at UCLA under Jim Mora, Jr. and at Michigan.  Let me just say that there are other NFL head coaches who could use a clock management assistant too…

Finally, here is an observation by Brad Rock in the Deseret News with which I totally agree:

“A poll conducted for calm.com says the dullest sport to watch is golf.

“Cricket ranks the second-best cure for insomnia, followed by soccer and baseball in a tie for third.

“Synchronized swimming officials are demanding a recount.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



8 thoughts on “A Shot In the Foot…”

  1. Mark Duffner now the defensive coordinator at Tampa Bay? Wasn’t he the unsuccessful head coach of the Maryland Terrapins a few years ago?

    Recycling is alive and well in football.

    1. Gil:

      Good to hear from you again. Indeed the Bucs’ defensive coordinator for the moment and the former Maryland head football coach are one and the same.

  2. The NCAA grants so many waivers this would/should have been a chip shot. Sometimes you can see the logic and others it defies the very notion.

    1. Doug:

      Letting UNC and South Carolina play for Hurricane Florence relief efforts would have been a plus for the NCAA AND it would have been a plus for college basketball which has been getting some negative press recently regarding that FBI probe and the shoe execs’ trial in NY. It was a PR win on two fronts – – but there are those pesky NCAA rules and they must be taken very seriously…

  3. The Rams could’ve saved a lot of money on their clock-management assistant by simply hiring any 8-year-old who’s good at Madden.

    1. Dwight:

      Now, now… The NFL would not want to step into the realm of child labor laws. Moreover, if an 8-year-old showed that he/she could master something that other coaches could not, what would that say about the need to pay NFL assistant coaches north of a million dollars a year? 🙂

  4. Gee, I thought you were talking about Machado, the premiere free agent this year, looking forward to maybe a 400 million dollars contract, talking about not hustling.

    I thought the Jets had a time coach a few years ago….

    1. Ed:

      If the Jets were indeed the innovators of the “time coach” that is a plus for that organization. However, it does not remove the permanent stain of hiring Richie Kotite…

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